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Dust off your Deely boppers

Dear friend,

When the computer screen is flashing blankly and we are in periodic need of psychological reinvigoration, we stand up from our desk and walk over to our window overlooking a busy street corner.

We poke our head outside and watch the world go by.

What do we see?

Here in London’s Soho, we mostly see impossibly young people scurrying about clad in ultra skinny jeans that very sportingly reveal the owner’s preference in intimate undergarments.

Canvas sneakers and flat-soled pumps seem de rigueur too.

Hair is almost universally of a style that is indescribably strange.

The boys sport bizarre mutton-chop sideburns with freakish mandarin lateral fronds that protrude below the chin. But the hair is short on top, unfortunately making the wearer seem as if recently released from one of Her Majesty’s institutions.

Girls parade short bobs with occasional flashes of improbable pink or skunk-like bleached stripes. They wear short dresses over the ubiquitous tight jeans — but still somehow manage to look more like boys than the boys do.

Many sport garish fluorescently decorated tee shirts — very 1982. In fact the ensemble effect on the street scene is that of a four-year fashion car wreck that begins in 1979 and ends some time in 1983.

Having lost any ambition to walk around looking like the lead singer in a Ramones tribute band over twenty years ago, I resign myself not to fit in.

The weird thing is that these people give me funny looks!

But I am a reinsurance man, a stout purveyor of financial integrity, of certainty in an uncertain world, and that makes me above fashion, doesn’t it?

I’m not so sure. Everyone needs to feel that they belong, and that they fit in, and reinsurers are no different.

Even our conservative marketplace is prone to its fair share of fashion disasters, be they sub-prime investments, quasi-banking ‘finance’ products, whole account retro or just plain old suicidal pricing.

Such fads are the kaftans, Deely boppers, leg warmers and stack-heeled platform shoes of their day.

One wonders if the reality check of the credit crisis hadn’t intervened, how long it would have been before someone set themselves up as a ‘synthetic’ reinsurer, shuffling and packaging risk around the globe. (Hang on, didn’t one or two already try that one?)

With the benefit of twenty years’ hindsight (and the sobering effect legal bills) we can all look back cringingly at ourselves in our fashionable youth and wonder what on earth we thought we were doing.

Then we notice that it is raining, we are getting wet and decide that it is time for the news.

And speaking of news, our new reporter Alex Ferguson has been breaking lots of exclusive stories this week so don't forget to sign up to Reinsurance Magazine's Free ad-hoc breaking news emails

(But be warned - it's a really strange page - you have to scroll down a bit to find the reinsurance tick boxes in amongst our other insurance magazines - don't ask why!)

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